Photo: PDSA

As we make the most of hotter temperatures and bright, sunny days, many pet owners will enjoy scenic, summer walks with their pooch – but there is bacteria lurking in lakes and streams that can seriously harm dogs.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Blue-green algae can grow in all aquatic environments, but it’s most prevalent in still or stagnant water during summer. This particular type of bacteria is highly poisonous to animals, and can sadly be fatal, or result in long-term health problems for those that survive. 

“Dogs are particularly at risk, as they are more likely to drink from ponds while out on a walk, or groom themselves after swimming in affected water. However – the more aware we are of the potential dangers, the better we can protect our precious four-legged friends.”

Nina’s top tips on keeping your dog out of harm’s way this summer:

Recognise the danger

“Blue-green algae often appears as a green or blueish scum, but sometimes has a brown tinge and it’s seen on the water’s surface, it can sometimes clump up and the blooms can create foam on the shoreline. There’s no way of telling if algae is toxic just by looking at it, and some types of blue-green algae are only dangerous at certain times of year, but always be cautious and don’t take any risks around it.

Protect your pooch

“Be vigilant when walking your dog near any form of water, and if it looks bright green in colour, avoid at all costs. Never let your pooch drink from a pond or lake with dead fish or animals in either, the water could be dangerously toxic and make your pet extremely ill with potentially fatal consequences.  

“Your local council will put up signposts in areas regularly affected by blue-green algae, so make sure you scan the surroundings for any indication of danger before letting your dog go for a swim.

Know the symptoms

“Symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning can occur very quickly (within 15 minutes to one hour of exposure) and even a small amount can be lethal to a dog, so it’s important to act quickly and contact your vet immediately. Signs to look out for include vomiting, twitching, seizures, diarrhoea, increased thirst, drooling, breathing difficulties, or a collapse.

Report and prevent

“If you spot blue-green algae but there are no signposts to warn dog owners, you should report it to the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60. They’ll test the water and put up signage in the surrounding area to warn owners and help prevent any potential future cases.”

About PDSA

PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity providing a vital service for pets across the UK whose owners struggle to afford treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help when there is nowhere else for their owners to turn. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

By Ed

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